Sometimes being an animal rights advocate is emotionally exhausting. Today is one of those days.
Last night I was watching Animal Planet, as I often do, and the show was about polar bears in the wild. There was a mama polar bear and her 2 cubs who were not yet full grown, but also not tiny. Due to lack of food, a big male polar bear was following the threesome in the hopes that he could eat one of the cubs (apparently they will eat their own kind if they can’t find other food). The mama and her cubs walked for hours trying to get away from him, but finally one of the cubs collapsed from exhaustion and hunger. The mama bear was trying to get him back up but she couldn’t and eventually she had to leave him so that she could protect her other cub and herself. I had to turn the channel before the big male bear got to the dying cub. And then I cried. Yes, I cried at the cruelty of nature.
What immediately hit me after getting so emotional about this is how nature is kind in comparison to the horrible cruelties humans impose on non-human animals, especially “food” animals. That cub probably lived just as long as any pig does on today’s factory farms…and he at least lived his short life FREE. He knew the love of his mother, got to swim, play, and run around. Chickens, turkeys, pigs and other farmed animals get nothing of the sort. They spend their lives cooped up in tiny cages, feeling pain and sorrow every day.
So then I got even sadder. Then today I read a story about a man who broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house and put her 5 month old puppy in the oven and killed him, and I got EVEN SADDER. I mean, how can a human being be so incredibly heartless? HOW?
Anyway, the thing about caring so much about animals is that it lends itself all too easily to sadness. I still have not figured out how to completely combat this. How do you find the energy sometimes to go about your every day life when you know how much suffering there is in the world around you – human and non-human? And how do we ever know if we’re doing enough? The truth is that I never feel like I’m doing enough. I’m vegan, and I educate others about veganism; I write this blog; I volunteer for an animal rights organization doing office work and event planning; and I have a dog and a cat whom I love dearly….but none of it really feels like enough. Will it ever? Will I ever hear a story about animal cruelty and not feel like surely I’m NOT doing enough if things like that are still happening? I don’t know. Anyone have any thoughts/advice?
(Sorry this post is such a downer….I guess it’s just one of those days.)